Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History from Below

Norton. Mar. 2024. 512p. ISBN 9781324002086. $35. BIOG
Behind the pornography nom de plume Candida Royalle was Candice Vadala (1950–2015). Working extensively with Vadala’s diaries, historian Kamensky (A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley) sets the porn actress and producer’s life and career in parallel with the wider events of ’60s and ’70s counterculture, second-wave feminism, the anti-pornography crusade, and the changing landscape of pornography itself. Born in post–World War II New York, Vadala survived familial abuse and substance-use disorder. In the 1970s, social and political upheavals spurred a young Vadala to head for California, where she began working as an pornography performer—and eventually as Candida. By the 1980s, she had moved from acting to creating pornographic films and established Femme Productions, which she launched to make erotic movies that would appeal to women and align with her feminist ideals; she always tried to reconcile her values with her career, Kamensky argues. This in-depth biography makes a good argument that Vadala is an unsung history maker.
VERDICT For readers interested in works about feminism and sex in the late 20th century or in biographies of historically overlooked women.
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